And right now it’s running what no one else has: Android 2.1.
While people are saying the “dogfood” test is mainly to wind up with a consistent, unfragmented Android platform, you can bet that what’s also happening is all the Googlers are busy seeing how Google works with the Google Phone.
What concerns me is the book part of this.
You can expect major changes to Google Books to make it friendlier for mobile phones.
But more than that: You can place money that the best mobile platform for Google Books will be the Google Phone and those devices that adopt the “standard” Android OS.
Android will have features for Google Books no other platform will have built-in.
Google can argue in its defense that, for example, Apple is free to do the same thing — here’s the API, now go build it in.
Right, like Apple would do so, delivering those sixty-million plus iPhone and iPod Touch into the hands of the Google Monster.
Apple didn’t even want the Palm Pre sipping from iTunes sync — which was a move favorable to Apple!
Google is now moving into Apple’s turf.
Apple will have to move into Google’s turf.
We already know that Apple will soon evict Google Maps from the iPhone in favor of its own mapping system.
Will Apple buy or build a search engine?
Will Apple ramp up its iWorks in the Cloud service?
Does Apple now regret not opening its mouth over the Google Books Settlement, letting Amazon play that hand instead?
Let’s look at how this has been shaping up. It turns out I did several posts about this back in 2008, but no one wanted to listen!
May 30, 2008: It’s Now All Down To Apple Vs. Google — in which I pointed out:
The Internet is going to be the new telephone. But moreso: the transfer of information and entertainment is something that the pre-computer telephone couldn’t do. With music, photos, movies, and more transformed into digital data, the Internet has become sort of like Star Trek’s transporter. What used to be thought of as things — DVDs, books, magazines, newspapers, et al — can now be instantly “beamed down” to a receiving device.
And the primary receiving device is going to be an Apple iPhone or a Google Android OS phone.
Google sees what Apple has been doing. Google will try to replicate that as much as possible. There’s already rumors of an Android App Store. That’s unsurprising.
For Apple to spread out into the Internet, to challenge Google on its own turf, it will have to turn its stores into platforms that any merchant can set up. By doing that, Apple can relent on its standard pricing model and allow each merchant to catch hell for its own pricing.
And, I would add today, publish whatever the hell they like instead of getting Apple’s approval!
Note that back then, I was still a supporter of the ePub standard for eBooks. This is no longer true. However, with Apple moving towards digital books, the entire past history of American books is now trapped in the hands of Google — in ePub, PDF, and whatever new Cloud-friendly streaming format they create for Android.
March 16, 2008: The Three Companies Apple Should Acquire — I said Adobe, MySpace, and WordPress. I would change that today to these four companies:
1) Twitter — it’s instant communication, now the pulse of the Internet
2) WordPress — it’s the best damn blogging platform out there and now links to Twitter
3) eGether — Apple needs to counter Google Wave, this is how to do it
4) Veoh — Apple could clean up the mess they’ve made, convert it all to MP4, not worry about YouTube going away, and also deprive YouTube of all that video being created by iPhones
Apple doesn’t need Adobe now. I don’t think anyone does.
July 15, 2008: Google Uses The iPhone As An Android Testbed, where I said:
Very clever, Google.
Put it out for the iPhone to see how it works, collect data on how people use it, refine everything for the later Android versions.
Eventually put more features in the Android version, discontinue the iPhone version, and all those Google junkies flock to Android phones.
And isn’t that exactly what’s happened with some current iPhone owners who jumped from it to the Motorola Droid? It had mapping functions superior to the iPhone! Will even more people switch to this new Google Phone running Android 2.1? What other Google services will be better on it than the iPhone?
And let’s not forget this, either: While Apple will have the iTablet next year, there will be a flood of competing Android mini-tablets that will wipe out all current eInk eBook readers. While Apple will be creating a digital book future, there will still be many ePub and PDB eBook owners who will need to preserve that investment and will do it with a lower-priced device — in other words, an Android mini-tablet.
The dividing line between Apple and Google will come down to books.
Steve Jobs seriously underplayed his hand when he said this:
“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”
Choosing the future, Apple has marooned the past of books in the grips of Google.
That’s not an advantage I’d want Google to have.
It’s all Apple versus Google now.